NIGEL Farage has rejected the possibility of an electoral pact between Ukip and the Tories before the next general election, saying the parties are “diametrically opposed” on too many issues.
The Ukip leader said his party would draw support from both dissatisfied Labour voters and from Conservative supporters.
He added that the suspension of its MEP Godfrey Bloom over his description of a group of women Ukip members as “sluts” marked a turning point for the party.
Bloom also slapped Channel 4 reporter Michael Crick with a copy of the conference brochure after he was asked why there were no black faces among the dozens of people photographed on its cover.
Farage said: “We’re our own party with our own agenda. We are diametrically opposed to the Tories. We are opposed to HS2 and to wind farms, and we want to get on with fracking. We don’t want to be members of the European Union and Mr Cameron does. On all those things we command majority support in this country.”
He added: “Our biggest potential is the old Labour vote in the north, in places like Sunderland, where we recently took 25 per cent of the vote. We can certainly carry on taking votes from Labour.”
Farage said there was “almost certainly not” going to be a deal with the Conservatives, before finally saying: “I will give you a No.”
Farage said party members were furious with Bloom. “We’ve had a long series of jokes from Godfrey, and this was one joke too far. We’re a party of robust free thinking, but there’s a world of difference between pushing the boundaries of debate on issues such as immigration and foreign aid and what Mr Bloom did.
“There’s a difference between the old Ukip and the new Ukip. We’ve introduced a very tough selection process for our prospective MEPs… We are going to be a more disciplined party from now on.”
In his keynote speech to the conference on Friday, which was swiftly overtaken by events surrounding Bloom, Farage predicted Ukip was on course to cause a political “earthquake” by winning next year’s European elections.